The Chicago Files

A CANADIAN EXPAT'S EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS LIVING IN THE WINDY CITY!

Victoria Day

This is a repost of my, “Victoria Day” post from 2014.  As it is yet again, “Victoria Day Weekend” in Canada this weekend, I thought I’d post it for your amusement (hopefully!) 🙂 

– photo courtesy of bing.com

Ah yes, Happy Victoria Day!  Today is Victoria Day in Canada; however, not in the Province of Quebec.  I shall not endeavor to get into the political complications as to why this is so, except to say its underpinnings fall heavily upon the shoulders of the English/French settlement of Canada.

Okay, now that I have that out-of-the-way, let’s take a look at why (most of) Canada has this holiday.

The holiday is to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria, monarch of Britain; it began on her birthday, May 24th, 1854, when she was 35 years old.  The holiday was referred to as the, “Queen’s birthday”.  After her death in 1901, a law was passed to refer to the holiday as, “Victoria Day”.  Now, at this point I certainly could not blame you if you are thinking, okay, there it is then, the holiday as it is today! Aha! Much more complicated than that!  There is this little piece of legislation that, in 1904, also made the same date, “Empire Day” throughout the entire British Empire (Canada included of course).  “Empire Day” is now called, “Commonwealth Day”; it’s held in March and celebrated in various commonwealth countries in different ways.  It’s not a public holiday, nor is it well-known (I can see the Canadians shaking their maple leaf heads at me:  “What is it?”).

Back to the Queen, as it were.  Along the way, the holiday was moved to the Monday preceding May 25th.  Wait! There’s more holiday mayhem!  To include celebrations for the reigning sovereign’s birthday at any given time, yet another day was added to accommodate even more flag waving and birthday cake eating, as far as I can see.  Of course this date was changed over time. Why could they not pick one date for everybody’s birthday and have a big ‘ol hootenanny?

And unless things have changed in the past ten minutes, which they could very well to be sure, Victoria Day and the, “Queen’s birthday” (wait until there is a King at the helm, then we’ll all be in for it) are on the same day.  This year, it is today, Monday, May 19th, 2014.

Aspirin– photo courtesy of bing.com

Do you need one of these gargantuan aspirin after reading all of this holiday happenstance? Be my guest, I’ve got plenty!

The holiday has a different moniker in various regions of Canada.  When I was growing up in very British Southern Ontario, we called it, “Firecracker Day”:

Victoria Day Fireworks

– photo courtesy of 1057ezrock.com

When I moved from Ontario to Manitoba many moons ago, Victoria Day wasn’t celebrated with fireworks; not only was I surprised, I was disappointed.  I asked people what the holiday was called.  Practical and to the point, my Prairie folks are, as they simply call it, “May Long Weekend”.  What a unique and notable idea! Ah, but then I would be remiss if I did not tell you what the folks back in Ontario (besides my term of “Firecracker Day”) call this birthday celebration of the longest reigning monarch in Britain’s history:  May Two-Four Weekend.  This term has a double entendre:

It does, of course, mean this:

May 24 sign

– photo courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

It also means this:

May 24 Bob and Doug MacKenzie

– photo courtesy of  somegoodadventure.com

Beer in Canada (especially in Ontario) can be referred to as a, “two-four” when you buy, oh I don’t know, a box of 24 beers!  Ah, how things have changed.  Here is how Queen Victoria’s birthday was celebrated in Toronto in 1859:

Victoria Day Free Bread 1859

– photo courtesy of torontopubliclibrary.ca

Free bread! How can you go wrong with that?  Hhhhmmm, wait a minute.  Do you see a theme going on here? Beer and bread both have:  YEAST! I know, perhaps one day Victoria Day will be celebrated with plums!

** Here’s a little addendum.  My Mum just read this post and she asked me if I remember this little song from childhood:

The 24th of May
is the Queen’s birthday
If we don’t get a holiday
We’ll all run away.

Mum remembers singing it when she was a child.  So we’ve got free bread, beer, and a holiday! Wow!

Happy Victoria Day, May Long Monday Day, May Two-Four Weekend Day, and good ‘ol Monday!  Beer, bread, or both, enjoy the day!!

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14 thoughts on “Repost: Happy Victoria Day………….Who’s That, You Say??

  1. Tony Burgess says:

    Happy Victoria Day my friend. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Thank you, Tony! You too! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. D. Parker says:

    Happy May 2-4 Cher, oops, I mean Happy Victoria Day!!! 😉
    Big hugs, eh, Donna xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Ah, thank you, Donna! Happy May Long, I mean Victoria Day to you!! Big hugs, eh! Yah, no doubt! 😉 Cher xo

      Like

  3. nikibayard says:

    yes, i’d like my free loaf with tea please
    in a porcelain cup
    thanks 😉
    Nx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Right then! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Joseph Nebus says:

    Oh, yes, happy Victoria Day weekend. I always was delighted the way the British, and the Commonwealth at large, were able to turn the Regent’s Birthday into a complicated problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      *LOL* Indeed, Joseph! And they certainly did just that, didn’t they? Cher xo

      Like

  5. Ha! I remember the ditty your mom provided. I have lived in both Manitoba and Ontario so I’m familiar with the terms and differences. This year I’ve noted that friends and family in Manitoba have shortened the holiday to “The May Long”… whatever you call it, there was a lot of partying outdoors. Thanks for the nice article… made me nostalgic and a tad homesick. But really… California life isn’t too bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Ah, thank you, Debra! Yes, I’ve heard friends in Manitoba call it, “The May Long”, too! Meanwhile, back in Ontario, “The 2-4 Weekend” seems to still be in vogue! *grin* I utterly LOVE California, lucky girl! My Mom reads every comment, so I’m sure she’ll be very pleased to read that you remember that little ditty! Thanks, Debra! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It seems that EVERY year I have to explain Canada’s May long weekend to my American friends. Not sure why they think it’s so odd? Also Canada Day. I guess it’s because these holidays are both very close to U.S. holidays. Heck, I celebrate both countries, because I love them both!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. seaangel4444 says:

        Agreed on all accounts! I feel the exact same way. Yes, you are right; the holidays are so close together. The one I always laugh at is, “Oh, is Canada Day YOUR 4th of July?” *biggest grin* 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This UK lass never had a clue that this is a thing in Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Oh it sure is!! Why, when I was a child, we had fireworks for Victoria Day, and NOT for Canada Day (Canada’s Birthday, July 1st). I think things have changed, and it’s more the other way ’round now. But still, a holiday to be celebrated nonetheless! Cher xo

      Like

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